Can the New Democrat's mount a resurgence and possibly capture the role of the official opposition in the next provincial election?
It might have sounded pretty far-fetched up until the recent resignation of Lorraine Micheal who lost control of the progressive wing of the party in the 2013 caucus meltdown that resulted in two members defecting to the Liberals and a steep fall in popular support.
The New Democrats need an articulate progressive leader, a message and a plan. Sounds easy enough but one piece of the triangle is daunting enough, let alone assembling all three.
In the 24 hours since the leaders resignation two of the most talked about successors to the socialist throne have thrown cold water on potential leadership bids. Rookie NDP MP Ryan Cleary and social activist Sheilagh O'Leary appear to be out of contention.
While I do not think that O'Leary was the one who could build the triangle needed to put the NDP in contention as the best other choice, she would have made a significant and meaningful contribution to an exciting leadership race. She is convicted, passionate and no doubt committed to social change and the well being of her community. I expect that she will run for the party in the next election in a seat with a history of strong NDP support, say St. John's North.
Ryan's departure from the federal scene would have handed the Liberals St. John's South- Mount Pearl in the next election. It would have created a hole in the federal NDP seat count that could not be filled. The energetic, passionate and charismatic fighting Newfoundlander would have made a great provincial leader but the timing is off.
Enter former FFAW boss Earle McCurdy. I admit he can be a bit bland but he is not to be underestimated. Here is a name that is known from one corner of this province to the other.
He is a proven leader, a proven organizer and not considered a political climber. In other words his goal in life has not been to be in politics but effect real social change from outside the legislature.
A quick witted, respectful and thoughtful leader with provincial, national and international connections, McCurdy is no slouch. He could very quickly develop a talented provincial team that could very quickly offer voters in this this province an alternative to the Liberals.
McCurdy understands the many challenges facing rural Newfoundland and Labrador. He understands the oft-neglected fishery, he understands the all-important resource files and would wage a convincing battle for social equity and economic fairness.
He is a proven and respected leader that can deliver the leadership, the team, the plan and the party's message to an electorate that is hungry for change and alternatives.
I hope the speculation turns into an announcement. It is about time we had some political discussions about policy, people and dare I say, choice.